As a sign of further development, Sika Hungária, the local subsidiary of Sika AG, the Swiss chemical company of building supplies, has moved to a larger site in Biatorbágy, just outside Budapest. As General Manager András Berecz tells Diplomacy&Trade, the company is constantly introducing new products and solutions to keep ahead of competition, increasing their role in sales to end-users, educating customers about new technologies and serving communities in the framework of sustainability.
Sika, established in 1910, set up its subsidiary in Hungary in 1993. The economic environment has had its ups and downs during these 27 years. As the General Manager points out, Sika's organization is sales-oriented with several target market pillars and sales channels that follow up on these changes and provide the opportunity to override the waves. “Our company’s basic goal is to provide tangible, innovative, lasting and sustainable solutions for builders and industrial producers. The core business areas that Sika has always had, like Concrete technology, Roofing and Waterproofing, have continuously been supplemented by new areas, like our Building Finishing portfolio, that today, Sika is able to cover all fields of construction chemistry. New portfolios are continuously joining in and making the company suitable to weather these ups and downs.”
From site to shelf
One of the company’s focus directions is the acquisition of commercial partners through which Sika can supply customers directly, rather than only serving the industry. “This ‘site-to-shelf’ approach means that we are present not only in the areas of industry and large construction projects but we also have a very serious role in sales to the general end-users with a focused portfolio of tile adhesives, sealing and bonding, and waterproofing,” he adds.
András Berecz, who has been with Sika for over 20 years, stresses that the COVID-19 pandemic is a new challenge for everyone. “The current pandemic situation cannot really be analyzed successfully but, of course, we have a plan – and a team with full commitment to tackle any problems that may arise in the construction and machinery industries. It is important to find new opportunities on the market.”
Sika Hungária not only sells products and solutions to its customers but it also has an academy to instruct in their application. “Besides general training sessions, it is a very important part of our sustainability efforts to educate our partners about the use of new technologies. In addition, there are application engineering issues for simpler use: they help customers utilize the beneficial characteristics of the materials we supply. It is now a common practice that we provide training for our partners in multiple areas – even in the framework of roadshows throughout the country. In the current pandemic situation, our training activities have gained even more ground and we have joined the trend of online education. We have launched two webinar series. The first seven sessions have been about tile adhesives, underlayment, waterproofing and wood floor bonding – basically covering the areas of sales activities we have through commercial partners. The second part will be about the engineering and design side and we expect it to be completed by late October with our customers always being able to see the latest information online,” he highlights.
Innovation for future
Like in many other industries, innovation is a key to success in the area covered by Sika’s activities. It is also of paramount importance in Sika’s policy to ensure that they keep up with, and many times keep ahead of, the competition in innovation and practicality. As the General Manager recalls, Sika has always been in the forefront in research and development. “It is a great benefit that we have behind us a very experienced R&D organization and every target market has its own research team. There are enormous amounts of innovative ideas and products coming from our mother company, including a high number of new patents – we pick what we can best utilize in our local market and provide our customers with a significant share of new products in Hungary, as well.”
Sustainability, a fundamental value
For companies in – or related to – the construction industry, sustainability is a key word. András Berecz is glad to say that the topic in this respect has long been the sustainable development of the company, itself and not only that of its products during their life cycle. “Although, we are first and foremost a sales-oriented organization, sustainability is a fundamental value at Sika and the vast majority of products are developed in the spirit of this principle: the amount of energy used should be minimum, the amount of reused material in the finished products is as high as possible, etc. Every move we make on the market is in a sustainable frame with ‘More Value - Less Impact’ being our basic sustainability strategy.”
He stresses that this strategy applies to products, production, property management, energy consumption, etc. and it includes the reduction of cement content, using less water, energy savings, repair and insulation but also small things like the elimination of plastic bottles in Sika offices. One of Sika’s targets is the more than 10% of CO2 emission reduction per ton of products sold. “All these efforts are made with the goal in mind that we should leave a sustainable world to our children and grandchildren,” he says.
As regards the priorities of the company’s corporate social responsibility policy and its related activities in Hungary, the General Manager notes that “the COVID-19 situation has prevented us from organizing several events that bring our workers together but we are carrying on with the ‘Sika Cares’ program by collecting mobile phones for the Jane Goodall foundation (for their coltan content, the mining of which endangers wildlife in Africa), participating in the renovation of kindergartens and the refurbishment of school bathrooms to help local governments with fewer resources (like the school in Iszkaszentgyörgy, SW of Budapest), including the provision of supply for these renovations. We also planned voluntary work, but the pandemic canceled such personal participation programs – we hope that this can take place in the fall.”